Thanks for stopping by our blog. This will be the spot for celebrations, vents, and any extra info I feel like sharing on any particular day. I said last year that I was going to blog once a week, then that went to once a month, then it just never happened. So...yeah, why not start on a Thursday, in April...so random, right?
Oh, sorry. I'm Tamara. I'm the owner/founder/CEO...whatever you feel like calling me. For right now, I'm the lead a.k.a only designer. I'll get to more on staffing a bit later.
I have a bit of a more who section on the "About Us" page. This is going to go skim some and go a bit deeper.
As I said earlier, I'm Tamara. Tamara Paylor to be exact. I have always had a love and attraction to fashion and graphic design since a young age. In 2016, I went full-time in my graphic design business. That's right...an entrepreneur. It wasn't too much of a leap because I had been doing graphic design under my company since graduating with my design degree in 2004. It had just been a side gig all those years. My main gig after graduation was an internship that turned into a production artist, that turned into an art supervisor. I loved...but the economy went bad and then I relocated to have family support during and after my pregnancy.
What made me take the leap? At that time, I had a B2B sales job and found it harder and harder to get out of my car and visit one more business. I wasn't doing graphic design because in Charlotte, NC and the surrounding areas, the jobs advertised for graphic designers tended to be more networking than design. So, I took what I could and happily ran from customer service (my prior job). Anywho...Having a discussion with my mom (one of my bestest friends) Grammarly wants to kill me right now. My mom said something that in the 10 years I had been operating my business that she had never previously said before. I took that as a cue from the heavens to follow directions. All she said was, "I think you could make a run of it." So, I did.
Two things I need to mention here. No, I did not have a full plan or money saved up. I just leaped. Yes, I encourage many people to plan out their exit strategy and save up. However, that bit of overused, overrated advice depends on you. No one knows you better than you. I'm an Aries, we are the hot-headed, do first ask questions later bunch. I have found in my life, that the times that I have tried to plan and execute, I was stuck in this "it's not the right time merry-go-round." You know the one, the one where you want to do something and you want to save up or start working on it but the money isn't right or the timing isn't right.
For those of us that have that problem, sometimes just doing it, gets it done. When I was at my full-time design job and rumors were going around saying layoffs were coming, I told my team that if it happened to me (which many doubted it would) I would take the leap and go into plus-size modeling. I would take part of my 401k and invest in a full professional photoshoot. Hair, makeup, stylist...the works. Well, sometimes if you don't take the leap...you'll be pushed. God/the Universe has your back either way. Neither way guarantees a smooth path. (Yes, I got canned and did just what I said I would. Got a few spotlights, features, and covers. Just look up T. Marlene.)
Between going full-time and participating in many networking groups, I found myself dating another entrepreneur. I loved it. The way we vibed and bounced ideas off each other and we understood the art of the game (the late nights, early mornings, or team no-sleep). One day talking about us, either online within a Facebook group or to a friend, I said, "entrepreneurship is sexy." And that was when the first designs were created. I initially made 5 designs and the clothing was under my design business. The feedback and sales were amazing. Between online sales through social media or in-person, I saw an opportunity.
What & Why & a little bit of How thrown in
Obviously from the section title, these two things coincide. I can't quite remember how I came up with the name but I do remember what I wanted. I didn't just want a t-shirt line. Everyone and their cat has one. People told me that they felt inspired by my designs to become an entrepreneur or encouraged to keep pushing through. So, I wanted to not only continue to do that but I wanted to also become a resource.
One of my old call center co-workers would call me the resource queen or floor support. I love researching. If someone posts a meme about a real event or person, before I post it, I look it up. If I see something someone on my friends list posted and it seems out there, I look it up. Maybe it's because we actually had physical encyclopedias growing up and had to use them. With all my research skills,
The problem was, however, that I could not get the resources and direction I need. It seemed that other designers were tight-lipped on how to run a business and even going to a place like the SBA didn't help me. I visited the SBA and SCORE in Tampa and Charlotte. I was told there were no resources for what I did (graphic design). No one took the time to see if I at least had structured my business correctly or started working on business credit. It took me 10 years and a large black-owned business Facebook group to finally get the info I so desired. I'm not talking about the register with your state stuff either. I'm talking about the DUNS number (this is going away now) and the tools to use to elevate my design work to attract more clients. I found a mentor within the group. He eventually didn't work out but I did gain a lot of resources from him and the group (as well as business).
A passion was born within all this success, I decided I wanted to help other entrepreneurs get the resources they so desperately wanted and needed. I knew that entrepreneurship is a completely different lifestyle. It's not something you can just turn off when you come home. Entrepreneur Life Apparel was born. The ultimate vision is to use a portion of the profits to create a grant for minority business owners (women and youth included) and provide not just a community online but a co-op space where businesses could set up and serve other businesses. We would also have free classes. That is still the vision. I am determined to help other businesses not waste 10 years.
Where Are We Going
I honestly hope I've filled you in on each and I'm being totally open and honest about it. I've told this story to many but never wrote it all down. I also hope that you find some inspiration or at least can relate to my journey.
We are trademarked, filed, and on a positive swing. This year we have launched things that we have been putting off for at least 1-2 years. This delay wasn't just due to a lack of funds, but a lack of steam.
I fell into depression not once but twice. A deep depression (the one where you sleep all day and your hygiene are questionable). I had encountered so many pitfalls and horrible business people and even clients/customers. I also was juggling being a single mom of a special needs child with no financial support from the other person, jumping out there creating a 2nd business without the first one having a full system or being able to run on its own.
I found myself giving excuses, becoming unreliable, and making up lies. It got to a point where I willingly gave refunds to design clients. I found myself taking on any and every design job just to stay afloat. Horrible thing to do. No matter how much time I tried to allot, I could not work on setting up Entrepreneur Life with the constant marketing and content it needed.
When everyone major magazine decided it was time to start supporting black-owned businesses due to the current events between 2019 and 2021, I felt like a failure because I let that opportunity slip. I was ill-prepared. Let me just say, this isn't just falling back on the leap several paragraphs ago, but mentally and emotionally, I wasn't and I became worn. Turning 40, finding out who my friends were and my romantic life didn't help either.
With prayer, medication, and a mind reset, 2021 saw my resurgence. I had gotten into an Entrepreneurship Certificate Program, I was losing weight the healthy way, got a legit PPP loan, started meditating, being more intentional, removed folks from my social media and life that didn't fit into my higher vibration, I started reading once a month, and some of this started during my break from everything including social media (folks thought I was dead), The Bank of America Women's Entrepreneurship certificate program by eCornell, is amazing. Once again, I was giving information that filled in the gaps. I started to strategize. I had notes and Excel spreadsheets (Pro Forma).
I had originally decided to not do any design work at all so that I could focus on this brand. Why? Because I believe in this brand's potential to not only become an international brand but to help entrepreneurs in the long run. That plan has slightly shifted but I'm forever grateful and know that I'm blessed. There a many design clients that through not 1 but 2 drop off from the face of the earth breaks, still wanted to work with me. Not everyone can say that. That is a testament to my brand and talent. So, once again with strategizing, I decided on changing my structure. I no longer do small jobs, only packages, and I raised my prices. This has allowed me to make more income but with fewer clients. Fewer clients mean less multi-tasked work, less stress, and more time to dedicate to this brand.
With funding, I was able to invest in setting up systems like CRMs (Dubsado), change platforms for the store, and get other important resources. Now, today, we are positioned to once again, provide great quality, unique designs, and finally put out those resources.
It's currently myself and my awesome VA. I'm looking to expand by adding at least 2 more VAs and another designer by end of the year. I'm looking for the designer to be an intern so that not only would they get paid but they would also gain real-world client work for their portfolio and also my mentorship to help start their own design business. That's the staffing part, at least for now.
I have put out 3 things in the past two months:
- New designs! I have consistently dropped 5 new designs per month. I would like to keep that momentum up because we offer designs for men, women, kids, and accessories. I don't like the 1 design a month to fit all methods. I have already designed at least 20 designs not released yet.
- Summer Camp Planner! So, this one has a slight back story...I'll keep it concise. Came up with the idea 1-to 2 yrs ago while trying to come up with a schedule of camps for my athletic and artistic daughter. I tend to find many all-day camps are more like babysitters. So when looking for camps with a bit more of a focus, you'll find they only run for a week. Summer is 8-12 weeks. It became a blank calendar with a pencil, constantly reviewing mini-series. I wondered if anyone had something like a planner for this out there, and they hadn't. Remember, I didn't have much time for this brand, so I hired someone last year to finally put it out and she never worked on it and tried to blame me. I ended up working on it myself, due to my newfound schedule and less stressful life. I wasn't able to have it done before the new year, however, I decided to just put it out. So it's out there! It's available on the site and on Amazon (yay). This is going to be an ongoing series. We have 2023 in the works, a blank year planner, and a special edition with stickers (who doesn't love planner stickers?). Even though the planner is for adults, my vision was to make it colorful and fun to get the kids involved too. (I didn't promise short)
- Lastly, but not least. N.O.V8, our subscription box service. The 2-year delay on this was mainly fear. I want others to see the value in what each box contains. I also wanted to do it right. Well, I was told multiple times that Done is Better Than Perfect, so out it went. The service is quarterly and contains curated items from minority businesses that can be tools and resources to help entrepreneurs on their journey. The boxes also include exclusive Entrepreneur Life merchandise (which will not go on this site).
We have so much more in the works. A podcast, magazine, and more! Stay tuned! I may even write a book one day.
Thanks for reading and supporting the mission!